• Masks



    Released by: Reel Gore Releasing
    Released on: September 13th, 2016.
    Director: Andreas Marschall
    Cast: Susen Ermich, Michael Balaun, Lucyna Bialy, Lisa Blaschke, Franziska Breite, Zübeyde Bulut
    Year: 2011
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    The Movie:

    Stella (Susen Ermich) just flubbed her audition but all is not lost for the would-be actress. Kaspar (Dieter Rita Scholl), one of the judges, encourages her to try for a spot at the Matteusz Gdula Stage School as they’re currently looking to fill spots in their summer program. She agrees to give it a shot and soon enough her boyfriend, Florian (Michael Siller), is driving her off to the remote school. As they near the place, a student named Britt (Franziska Breite), is running from… something… so quickly that she almost gets smacked by Florian’s car.

    Regardless, Stella arrives and meets the trio that runs the place - principal Yolanda (Teresa Nawrot), director Janowska (Magdalena Ritter) and a doctor named Braun (Michael Balaun). They’re not particularly welcoming to the new recruit and neither are the fellow students. It isn’t too long before Jankowska sees a spark in Stella and starts encouraging her, and the others, to be done with putting on a happy face and being more open about their emotions, even if it results in flaring tempers. Stella has trouble with this and winds up being ostracized a bit for her reluctance, but is eventually taken under the wing of a performer named Cecile (Julita Witt) who gives her private lessons after class. Stella finds herself attracted to her new friend, but concerned about the abrasions on Cecile’s body.

    Then Cecile disappears around the same time that the cops and a reporter show up to investigate what happened to Britt who, along with her roommate Lydia (Katja Lawrenz), was recently found dead. Stella takes it upon herself to start digging into the school’s history and as she does, she starts to tie in the current events to the death of the man who founded the school, Matteusz Gdula (Norbert Losch).

    Borrowing very, very heavily from Dario Argento’s Suspiria and throwing in a few nods to Sergio Martino’s All The Colors Of The Dark, Andreas Marschall’s modern era giallo may be an exercise in style over substance but it is well done. This visuals here ape Argento’s classic style in a big way, what with all the exaggerated lighting, the quirky architecture and the tracking shots used throughout the movie but it’s pretty tough to deny that the look of the movie pulls you in. The pacing here is pretty decent too and while the blood doesn’t really start flowing until the last third of the film, there’s enough suspense and plot twisting going on in the first hour of the picture to hold your attention.

    Susen Ermich does a fine job on the lead. She’s attractive, sure, but she’s got more than looks to offer the film. As she gets pulled deeper into the bizarre happenings at the school her character is put into some increasingly dangerous situations and Ermich’s fear is palpable in these moments. We also believe her to be smart enough to figure things out the way that she does. She and the beautiful Julita Witt have an interesting chemistry in the screen time that they share together. Magdalena Ritter, Teresa Nawrot and Michael Balaun are sufficiently off putting in their respective parts as the staff at the school. We know as soon as we see them that something is amiss, but the reveal is handled well here by Marschall. Additionally, the score is quite effective and the production values quite impressive. A little more originality would have gone a long way here, but Marschall and his team do what they do very well and Masks is a pretty entertaining watch, even if it is pretty derivative.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Reel Gore Releasing brings Masks to Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 2.35.1 widescreen. Shot digitally, this is a glossy looking production with a lot of really over the top lighting used throughout and the transfer handles this well. There are obviously no print damage issues to note, while detail is typically very strong, even when that colored lighting is blasting overtop of the objects in the frame. Texture and depth are nice, black levels are very solid, and there are no obvious problems with compression artifacts to note.

    Audio options are provided on the Blu-ray in German DTS-HD 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo Master Audio. Subtitles are provided in English and Spanish. No complaints here, the movie sounds really good. The score benefits more than anything else from the extra channels on the 5.1 track, really pumping out quite nicely from the surrounds during a few key scenes. Dialogue is clear and nicely balanced and there are no audible issues with any hiss or distortion.

    The main extra on the disc is a Behind The Scenes piece that runs about fifteen minutes. This is made up mostly of footage shot on set during the production of the film, there isn’t really much in the way of cast and crew interviews here. Seeing some of the effects being done is pretty interesting though, this is worth checking out. There are also four minutes of deleted scenes included here, basically showing off Stella wandering about different locations looking increasingly scared because of what she sees/experiences.

    Outside of that, the disc also includes two different trailers for the feature, a still gallery, a music video, menus and chapter selection. As this is a combo pack release, we also get a DVD version of the movie with identical extra features. Both discs fit inside a clear Blu-ray cast that in turn fits inside a full color slipcase. Also included inside the slipcase is a full color twenty-four page booklet containing an essay on the film by Kier-La Janisseas well as some bios for the cast and crew members and a selection of photos and artwork related to the film and an interview with the movie’s director in which he talks about his intentions with Masks and some of the films that clearly influenced it. If that weren’t enough, we also get a CD (in its own cardboard sleeve) that contains the movie’s entire soundtrack. Also worth noting is the fact that the first 1,000 copies of this release will come with a ‘Gore Girls’ trading card insert into the packaging.

    The Final Word:

    Masks lays on the Argento homage so thickly that it’s a bit distracting, but this is a well-made picture featuring a lot of gorgeous camerawork and colors. Throw in a few decent kills and an attractive female lead and makes for a pretty solid giallo throwback. Reel Gore has done a fine job bringing it to Blu-ray with a nice transfer, strong audio, some good extras and really nice packaging.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!